Lisa Russell
October 18, 1993 12:00 PM

REALLY RINGY DINGY

“T am hit on everywhere I go,” snorts Ernestine, the telephone operator who owes her oinkish laugh to alter ego Lily Tomlin, 54. Why, even the Muppets are mad for her. Ernestine recently joined Oscar and company to tape a grouch-off for a forthcoming Sesame Street special to air on PBS. “The charm, the charisma…I have a kind of magnetism that people can’t resist. Men, women, children, animals are all drawn to me. I feel like St. Francis of Assisi in some ways and Madonna in others.”

PUTTING HER BUTT ON THE LINE

Park Overall, 36, who plays Nurse LaVerne on the NBC sitcom Empty Nest, got her film break five years ago as the prostitute who seduces Matthew Broderick in Biloxi Blues. She recently auditioned to play a similar character, whom she describes as a “whorey little waitress,” who gets bussed on the behind by Kevin Costner in the upcoming movie A Perfect World, also starring Clint Eastwood. “Nothing against Kevin, but I’d rather it would have been Clint kissing my butt,” says Overall, who didn’t get the role—or the smooch. “I’m sorry I didn’t get to do the part. I’m very proud of my butt.”

TWO’S COMPANY, THREE’S ROMANCE

Looks like Filipino-born actress Lea Salonga, 22, who won a Tony Award as the female lead in Broadway’s Miss Saigon and sang “A Whole New World” in the Disney hit Aladdin, is going to be so busy promoting her self-tilled debut album that she’ll barely have time to dale. Fortunately her mother, taking Filipino custom to heart, is already lending a hand in that department. For Lea’s 21st birthday, Mom micro-managed a meeting with a Harvard MBA student named Dennis—and then showed up to chaperon the event. “She’d invited him and his mother and other friends,” says Salonga. “He understands when my mother comes because he’s also Filipino and has a sister he wouldn’t allow to go out without all of them. They’re even more strict than I am.”

THOSE LITTLE TOWN BLUES

NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, who hails from the New York City suburb of East Islip, spent nine years with the Cincinnati Bengals before being traded to the New York Jets this year. He sure missed the Big Apple. “Pizza, egg rolls, big, hot pretzels—just being able to go to any street corner and get [a good] hot dog,” says Esiason, 32, who has been one of the league’s top-rated quarterbacks so far this season. “I finally conned the deli where I lived into ordering Boar’s Head meals, and then I got traded to New York.” One thing he’s unaccustomed to is the intense scrutiny of the New York media. “Today they ran a headline about me heaving [throwing up] on a plane. That would never have made the papers in Cincinnati.”

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